Business at OECD Head Shares 2020 Policy Priorities With USCIB

Business at OECD’s Russel Mills (left, center) with IOE’s Shea GoPaul and USCIB policy staff

Secretary General of Business at OECD (BIAC) Russel Mills visited USCIB’s Washington DC and New York offices the week of February 3 to update staff on Business at OECD and OECD priorities for the year.

Mills shared that environment, biodiversity, plastics and climate change issues are moving to the top of the agenda, however there will also be a mushrooming of digitization plans and digital economy work related to changing business models and digitally enabled companies. Mills also noted that policies around digital taxation and re-skilling will be on top of the agenda for both organizations.

“We really valued our time with Russel, which gave us an opportunity to touch base on our respective organizations’ policy priorities,” said USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson. “USCIB looks forward to a productive year working with BIAC to help drive the work of the OECD.”

Information, Communications and Technology

Trends and Challenges Facing the ICT Sector:

  • The digital transformation of the economy affecting areas from trade to tax to labor as well as emerging technologies such as AI, IoT and Blockchain
  • The efforts of some UN Security Council members to bring governance of the Internet, management of the domain names system and cybersecurity norms and regulations under the purview of the UN and other intergovernmental forums
  • Privacy regulations that prove overly burdensome to business operations or hamper innovation

 

USCIB’s Response:

  • ICT Policy Committee’s 2020 Goals and Objectives
  • Proactively shape the development of the OECD’s Going Digital Project and ensure consistencies with G20/B20 work on the digital economy
  • Advocate a multi-stakeholder model to manage Internet-related issues and to enable business to play a leading role promoting policies aimed at ensuring the safety, security, stability and resilience of the online ecosystem
  • Support approaches aimed at regulatory interoperability by meeting with USG officials to elevate the Cross-Border Privacy Rules (CBPR) system and to raise support for the joint work of the APEC Data Privacy Subgroup and the European Commission on certification of international data transfers

Magnifying Your Voice with USCIB:

  • USCIB is the only U.S. business association formally affiliated with the world’s three largest business organizations where we work with business leaders across the globe to extend our reach to influence policymakers in key international markets to American business
  • Build consensus with like-minded industry peers and participate in off-the-record briefings with policymakers both home and abroad.

Positions and Statements

USCIB Statement on Signing of USMCA (1/29/2020) - USCIB Statement on Signing of USMCA
USCIB Applauds Approval of OECD Principles on Artificial Intelligence (5/22/2019) - USCIB applauds the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development's (OECD) approval on May 22 of the OECD Principles on Artificial Intelligence

Read More

 

News Stories

Business at OECD Head Shares 2020 Policy Priorities With USCIB (2/11/2020) - Secretary General of Business at OECD (BIAC) Russel Mills visited USCIB’s Washington DC and New York offices the week of
ICC Comments to ITU Emphasize Enabling Environment (1/27/2020) - In an effort to inform the work of the United Nations about the tremendous potential of emerging ICT-technologies to help

Read More

Press Releases

USCIB Applauds Approval of OECD Principles on Artificial Intelligence (5/22/2019) - USCIB applauds the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development's (OECD) approval on May 22 of the OECD Principles on Artificial Intelligence
Conference to Help Policymakers Navigate Fast-Evolving Digital Economy (2/26/2019) - Conference to Help Policymakers Navigate Fast-Evolving Digital Economy

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Op-Eds and Speeches

Hampl Gives Testimony on US-UK Trade Agreement (1/29/2019) - Following USCIB’s submission on January 16 to USTR regarding negotiating objectives for a U.S.-UK Trade Agreement, USCIB Senior Director for
USCIB Op-Ed: Time for Some ‘Tough Love’ at the UN (5/2/2017) - USCIB President Peter Robinson, writing in The Hill, urges U.S. officials to help the United Nations focus its efforts and

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Chair

Ellen Blackler
Vice President, Global Public Policy
The Walt Disney Company

Staff

Barbara Wanner
Vice President, ICT Policy
202-617-3155 or bwanner@uscib.org

Staff

Erin Breitenbucher
Senior Policy and Program Associate, Washington
202-682-7465 or ebreitenbucher@uscib.org

 

USCIB Statement on Signing of USMCA

Washington, D.C., January 29, 2020 – The U.S. Council for International Business (USCIB), which represents many of America’s leading global companies, welcomes today’s signing of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) trade agreement, updating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Over 12 million American jobs depend on trade with Canada and Mexico, so USMCA is an important agreement for U.S. industry for future economic growth.

“The agreement contains several provisions modernizing the original NAFTA, creating new opportunities for American companies and consumers,” said USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson. “However, USMCA also leaves room for improvement for future negotiations, so we look forward to continued dialogue with the Administration on ensuring critical protections will be upheld in future agreements.”

  • Digital Trade: USMCA contains a state of the art digital trade chapter, including prohibiting cross-border data flow restrictions and data localization requirements, prohibiting requirements for source code or algorithm disclosure or transfer as a condition for market access, prohibiting customs duties on electronic transmissions, provisions on consumer protection, privacy, cybersecurity and open government data. This new chapter allows companies to more effectively operate in the modern global economy.
  • Customs and Trade Facilitation: USMCA significantly updates the customs and trade facilitation provisions from the original NAFTA, ensuring that goods can efficiently flow in and out of the United States. The parties agreed on provisions related to trade facilitation, including the creation of a single-access window system and expedited customs procedures for express shipments. The agreement also includes commitments from Canada and Mexico to increase their de minimis levels, moving toward leveling the playing field for American companies.
  • Labor provisions: The original NAFTA was the first FTA to include labor provisions, though they were contained in side letters. USCMA brings the labor chapter into the agreement’s body, introduces strengthened labor provisions and makes them enforceable. The provisions require adherence to core labor standards of the International Labor Organization (ILO) and effective enforcement of national labor laws.
  • IP protections: USMCA contains important provisions protecting the intellectual property rights (IPR) of American companies, including protections on patents, copyright, trademarks and trade secrets, which are important for the ability of American companies to continue to innovate. One major omission, however, is the opportunity to fully protect biologics. The removal of increased market exclusivity of biologics in the final agreement is detrimental to American companies and consumers.
  • Investment: Protections for American companies when investing in Canada or Mexico are vital to ensure continued growth and development. USMCA contains such protections for many sectors, however does not fully protect all American companies across the board by significantly limiting access to the dispute settlement mechanism. In addition, even the limited dispute settlement mechanism is only available with Mexico, so for investment disputes with Canada, American investors have to rely on mechanisms outside of the newly negotiated agreement. Picking winners and losers for investment protection is not an appropriate precedent for U.S. FTAs going forward.

USCIB looks forward to entry into force and effective implementation of this important trade deal for U.S. business, and increased trade opportunities for our members.

About USCIB:
USCIB promotes open markets, competitiveness and innovation, sustainable development and corporate responsibility, supported by international engagement and regulatory coherence. Its members include U.S.-based global companies and professional services firms from every sector of our economy, with operations in every region of the world, generating $5 trillion in annual revenues and employing over 11 million people worldwide. As the U.S. affiliate of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the International Organization of Employers, and Business at OECD (known as BIAC), USCIB helps to provide business views to policy makers and regulatory authorities worldwide, and works to facilitate international trade and investment. More information is available at www.uscib.org.

Contacts:

Kira Yevtukhova, USCIB
+1 202.617.3160,
kyevtukhova@uscib.org
Glen Brandow, USCIB
+1 212.703.5043,
gbrandow@uscib.org

ICC Comments to ITU Emphasize Enabling Environment

In an effort to inform the work of the United Nations about the tremendous potential of emerging ICT-technologies to help realize economic and social prosperity, USCIB has been working with the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) over the past several years to develop policy papers and statements. On January 22, USCIB submitted comments to the Open Consultation convened by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) Working Group on International Internet-related Public Policy Issues, which focused on required components that would foster the development and disseminations of emerging technologies for sustainable economic development. Importantly, this approach would help to meet specific targets of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

According to USCIB Vice President for ICT Policy Barbara Wanner, these components go beyond simply building infrastructure. The components include a foundation composed of infrastructure, applications and services and user engagement, a layer composed of policy issues – economic, technical, social/cultural, governance, and another layer featuring participation of relevant stakeholders from business, government, civil society and the technical community to inform the policymaking process.

USCIB cited ICT, Policy and Sustainable Economic Development, a policy paper prepared by the ICC Commission on the Digital Economy with active contributions from USCIB members, as the basis for its comments.

“We urge the ITU to use this document as a reference since underlying elements of the framework – everything from infrastructure and spectrum allocation, to data protection and cross border data flows, to digital skill development and access – will continue to be necessary to effectively harness the benefits of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and other emerging technologies going forward,” said Wanner.

USCIB also endorsed comments submitted by ICC BASIS as part of this public consultation.

 

Robinson Kicks Off 2020 With OECD, ICC France, ICC Germany 

ICC-Germany staff (Secretary-General Oliver Wieck, center) with USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson (right) in Berlin

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) held its annual consultation with Business at OECD on January 13 in Paris under the theme, Role of Business in Lifelong Opportunities: People First Policies to Bridge Divides. USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson and AT&T Senior Vice President Karim Lesina provided a kick-off presentation on behalf of industry, followed by remarks by OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria and Business at OECD’s Chairman Phil O’Reilly and Secretary-General Russell Mills.

Recommendations by Business at OECD focused on the value of relying on open markets on trade, investment, taxation and development initiatives; ensuring a people-first approach to developing new approaches to the Future of Work; and incentivizing and driving innovation in the health and environment areas in the 5G generation.

According to Robinson, it was the best-attended consultation to date, with a strong business delegation, senior OECD staff including all four Deputy Secretaries-General and OECD Ambassadors from nearly all OECD member countries. In helping to set the stage, Robinson emphasized the continued commitment of the American business community to open markets and multilateral approaches and institutions. “The necessity for inclusive multilateralism, whereby all stakeholders—including business—have a seat at the table to pursue societal challenges together is crucial,” said Robinson, who also praised the OECD in setting an appropriate example in this regard.

Lesina provided the perspective of a leading modern media company that is investing globally while driving innovation in life-long learning opportunities for its employees.  He highlighted that increased convergence and digitalization have helped create a truly global economy, providing consumers today with a unique opportunity to benefit from cross-border activity best cultivated by open market policies. Lesina emphasized the need for flexible policy and regulatory frameworks that foster innovation and drive creativity and underscored the vital role of the OECD in delivering the benefits of the digital economy to consumers everywhere through forward-looking and evidence-based policymaking.

“The Consultation provides an excellent opportunity for business to interact with OECD staff and country Ambassadors,” said Robinson. Robinson had several meetings with OECD management staff to discuss Business at OECD and USCIB priorities.

While in Paris, Robinson also visited USCIB’s International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) National Committee counterpart, ICC-France, and met with the new Secretary-General of ICC-France, Emmanuelle Butaud-Stubbs, to discuss mutual interests and priorities and cooperation in policy areas including trade and environment.

Robinson then traveled to Berlin to meet with several of USCIB’s global affiliate counterparts in Germany: ICC-Germany, the German Employers Federation (BDA) and the German Chamber of Industry and Commerce (DIHK). Secretary-General of ICC-Germany Oliver Wieck, Director of Communications Katrin Rupprecht and staff organized a discussion forum at which Robinson addressed U.S. Trade Policy in 2020. ICC-Germany members including Siemens, Thyssenkrupp and BDI attended as did Dr. Berend Diekmann, head of division for USA/Canada/Mexico from the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. Finally, Robinson met with BDA CEO Steffen Kampeter and DIHK Director of ATA Carnet Dr. Kornelia Ferati.

USCIB Releases 2020 Trade and Investment Policy Priorities

Each year the Trade and Investment Committee of the U.S. Council for International Business (USCIB) conducts an extensive consultation process among members in identifying priorities for the coming year. The 2020 USCIB Trade and Investment Agenda includes a list of key principles our members support for open trade and investment and an action plan for addressing our trade and investment policy priorities.

The action plan anticipates another busy year on trade and investment including:

  • pressing for final approval and implementation of USMCA,
  • seeking Administration action on phase 2 agreements with China and Japan,
  • supporting movement on trade negotiations with the EU and UK,
  • seeking continued progress on negotiations in the WTO on a digital trade agreement and
  • modernizing the WTO.

“The Agenda provides the framework for USCIB work to advance policies and negotiations that will open international markets for our member companies and strengthen the global rules-based trade and investment framework,” said USCIB Senior Vice President for Policy and Government Affairs Rob Mulligan. 

USCIB Opposes Proposed Rule on ICT-Related Transactions 

USCIB joined a coalition of over thirty other associations to send a letter to U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross regarding a proposed rule to implement an Executive Order on Securing the Information and Communications Technology and Services (ICTS) Supply Chain. This rule would provide the U.S. government with the authority to block, intervene in and unwind certain ICTS-related transactions on the grounds of national security.

The letter stated: “Our members share the Administration’s commitment to ensuring that ICTS transactions do not pose undue risks to national security. However, we view the proposed rule as vague and highly problematic because as written, it would provide the Department with nearly unlimited authority to intervene in virtually any commercial transaction between U.S. companies and their foreign counterparts that involves technology, with little to no due process, accountability, transparency, or coordination with other government programs that are also designed to protect national security.”

According to the letter, the proposed rule does not provide sufficient legal clarity to American companies to identify transactions that could be in scope, which would create significant uncertainty in the business community, disrupt global supply chains and make a range of trade and investment decisions very difficult. Under the proposed rule, companies may also bear higher costs as they alter long-standing business relationships, search for new suppliers and unwind transactions, which will harm U.S. competitiveness and technology leadership.

“An open investment climate with predictable rules is vital to economic growth and development,” said Eva Hampl, senior director of investment, trade and financial services at USCIB. “While national security concerns should be a consideration, virtually unlimited government authority to intervene in transactions could cause significant economic harm to U.S. businesses and consumers.”

Stakeholders at IGF Seek to Avoid Fragmentation of the Internet

L-R: Barbara Wanner, USCIB (moderator); Ben Wallis, Microsoft; Jane Coffin, Internet Society; Alex Cooke, Government of Australia; and David Gierten, OECD

The fourteenth Internet Governance Forum (IGF) wrapped up on November 29 with an invigorated call from stakeholders for an Internet governance mechanism that preserves the IGF’s multistakeholder model and expands its institutional capabilities, amid warnings from UN and German officials about the potential fragmenting of the Internet. USCIB Vice President for ICT Policy Barbara Wanner attended the four-day IGF in Berlin and reported from the field.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who formally opened the IGF on November 26, warned of the crippling effect of growing nationalism that will increasingly fracture the Internet. “The [digital] infrastructure has become the very core of our global economy… [but] there are some who remain in their little bubble and do not actually exchange views with people who are of a different opinion and that is one of the challenges that we face in this overall development of the Internet,” she said.

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres offered a similarly dire outlook, telling the IGF audience that the today’s “accessible, free, secure and open Internet is at risk of fracturing along three intersecting lines … a profound digital divide, a social divide and a political divide.”

According to Wanner, Merkel and Guterres concurred that a comprehensive dialogue involving all stakeholders – citing the IGF as a model – can help to prevent such fragmentation, as this approach best ensures a healthy and thriving digital economy that can realize the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), connect the unconnected and bridge the digital skills gap. “The Internet must not and cannot be shaped only by governments alone because the basic issues revolving around the Internet have an impact on each and everyone’s life, and this is why we need a multistakeholder approach,” Merkel said.

“Against this backdrop, USCIB members who spoke in various workshops highlighted the importance of digital transformation by sharing business best practices and case studies that demonstrate how business’ digital innovations have improved people’s lives and livelihoods, created new commercial and employment opportunities and provided cultural connections,” said Wanner. “Their messages as workshops speakers and in bilateral meetings with UN officials and various government delegations also emphasized the importance of the multistakeholder model in considering the complexity of digital economy issues. In this regard, USCIB members reaffirmed their support for an adequately funded “IGF-Plus” architecture for Internet governance, proposed by the UN High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation (HLPDC).”

Joining Wanner were members from Amazon, AT&T, CCIA, Disney, Facebook, Google, ITI, Microsoft, Verisign and Verizon.

OECD Turns to Practical Implementation of AI, Privacy Guidelines

“Practical implementation” was an underlying theme at the recent discussions of the OECD Committee on Digital Economy Policy (CDEP), according to USCIB Vice President for ICT Policy Barbara Wanner, who reported from the field. The meetings took place November 18-22  at OECD headquarters in Paris. Wanner reported that having devoted more than a year to crafting the Council Recommendation on Artificial Intelligence, CDEP delegates and stakeholders discussed a paper outlining guidance on the implementation of the AI Recommendation, as well as the complementary AI Policy Observatory.

In a similar spirit, the Privacy Guidelines Expert Group (PGEG), which was convened to advance the mandated five-year review of the 2013 OECD Guidelines Governing the Protection of Privacy and Transborder Flows of Personal Data (the “Privacy Guidelines”), held a workshop on November 18 to explore the practicalities of operationalizing international cooperation in enforcement of privacy protections as well as consider the impact of AI on personal data protection and implementation of the Privacy Guidelines.

“Under the auspices of Business at OECD, USCIB members stepped up at the November CDEP meetings, intervening to underscore the importance of interoperability of privacy regulations to build trust and facilitate cross-border data flows for economic growth and prosperity,” said Wanner.

Citing Business at OECD’s Guiding Principles for the Review of the 2013 Privacy Guidelines, Wanner emphasized, “a consistent global approach to privacy will help companies of all sizes comply with [privacy laws], expand their commercial activities, and in turn grown their national economies with related employment benefits.”

Concerning implementation of the OECD’s AI Principles, Barry O’Brien (IBM Ireland), who chairs the Business at OECD delegation to the AI Experts Group, applauded the OECD’s proposed practical guidance as “building on the excellent work on the AI Principles and promoting the adoption and implementation of trustworthy AI.”

USCIB members actively shaped the development of the AI Recommendation as participants on a special AI Experts Group and are currently feeding business input to the PGEG.  USCIB members also made influential interventions concerning the proposed CDEP Program of Work and Budget 2020-2021 (PWB), work on online platforms, and key topics under the purview of the Working Party on Communications Infrastructures and Services Policy (CISP), such a draft report on price baskets for bundled communication services.

Joining Wanner were USCIB member representatives from Amazon, AT&T, CCIA, Comcast, Deloitte & Touche, Facebook, Microsoft and TMG Legal.

Domain Name System Abuse: A Hot Topic at Recent ICANN Meetings

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) wrapped up six days of annual meetings on November 7 in Montreal, Quebec, which featured, at times, heated debate about the roles of ICANN and the contracted parties in mitigating domain name system (DNS) abuse and related security problems. According to USCIB Vice President for ICT Policy Barbara Wanner,  who attended the meetings in her capacity as the Business Constituency’s (BC) representative to the Commercial Stakeholder Group (CSG), while security threats and the way the ICANN community tracks, reports, and mitigates them have always been an important focus of ICANN’s work, attention to this issue has intensified in recent months amid reports of sharp increases in phishing attacks and studies estimating that the cost of global cybercrime reached approximately $600 million in 2018.

“ICANN’s Business Constituency (BC), of which USCIB is a member, highlighted profound gaps in DNS abuse mitigation throughout the week’s meetings with the ICANN Board, senior ICANN staff, and other constituencies and the need to clarify definitions of abuse and aggressively enforce against offenders,” said Wanner.

According to Wanner, participants at ICANN 66, the organization’s Annual General Meeting, continued to advance discussions about the building blocks of a model to enable third-party access to nonpublic domain name system registration data for legitimate purposes that would comply with EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and other privacy regimes. The draft model may be finalized as soon as December, more probably in early 2020, following receipt of legal advice from the European Data Protection Board (DPB).

The meeting also continued to explore how to evolve ICANN’s multistakeholder model to improve its efficiency and effectiveness as part of the FY 2021-2025 Strategic Plan as well as other DNS management issues.

Wanner’s role as BC representative to the CSG has enabled greater input to policy discussions at the CSG executive committee-level on behalf of USCIB members and facilitated important meetings with senior ICANN officials and other key constituencies.  USCIB member representatives from Amazon, AT&T, BT Americas, CenturyLink, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and NBC Universal were present in Montreal and actively contributed to all policy discussions.